Aquino touts PH gains before ASEAN businessmen

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 21 2014 05:46 PM | Updated as of May 22 2014 01:46 AM

MANILA, Philippines - As his administration deals with the political turmoil from the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam, President Aquino highlighted his administration's gains before the ASEAN Business Club.

“Filipinos reaffirmed the mandate they gave us when they elected into our Senate a majority of the candidates I recommended to them—nine out of the twelve and the nine in the top ten of our senators, who will help to ensure that the transformation of the Philippines continues beyond this administration. It is likewise because of the Filipino people’s solid backing that we were able to pass politically complex legislation that had languished in Congress for far so long. It is because of them that a just and lasting peace in the southernmost part of our country is finally within our grasp—fostering greater stability across the entire archipelago," he said.

The government recently inked a comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro, which seeks to end the decades-old Muslim secessionist movement in southern Philippines.

Aquino pointed out that these are because of the people’s clamor for change, taking a swipe again at his predecessor.

“It began back in 2010, when our countrymen took a stand against corruption and impunity, and gave us the mandate for change—a mandate we would fulfill by eradicating corruption and fostering inclusive, equitable growth," he said.

Aquino cited the gains of the economy under his watch. He noted the Philippines has consistently maintained high economic growth, surpassing government targets. The Philippine economy grew by 7.2 percent in 2013, the second-fastest in the region.

"Our IT-BPO sector continues to remain a strong driver of growth, while manufacturing is experiencing a resurgence because of, among other factors, robust domestic demand. This strong domestic demand is another indication of the potential that investors see in the Philippines—on top of our administration’s commitment to good governance, strong macroeconomic fundamentals, and the credit-rating upgrades we have received from all three major credit-rating agencies, placing us at investment grade or higher. No longer are we the Sick Man in Asia; we are now Asia’s bright spot—a viable destination for investments and tourists," he said.

Aquino also encouraged businessmen to think of more investment opportunities in the country.

Aquino has over 2 years left in office and his administration continues to be dogged by the pork barrel scandal as well as criticisms of jobless economic growth.

Meanwhile, the ASEAN Business Club paid a courtesy call to the chief executive, as its members are meeting at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on East Asia which is being hosted by Manila.

The group was led by Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo, Jaime Augusto Zobel De Ayala, Chairman and CEO, Ayala Corporation and Dato Sri Nazir Razak, Group Chief Executive, CIMB Group Sdn Bhd. Malaysia

Razak expressed the business group's concern at the impact of the ASEAN Economic Community, which begins in 2015.

In the 24th ASEAN Summit in Myanmar, the ASEAN leaders released the Nay Pyi taw declaration which among others reaffirmed their commitment to the successful establishment of the ASEAN Community by 2015.

The ASEAN community seeks to take regional cooperation and integration among ASEAN members to a new level like the formation of a single economic bloc akin to the European union.